tv National Press Foundation Hosts Discussion on Presidential Transitions CSPAN November 8, 2016 7:04pm-8:00pm EST
thank you all very much. thank you for the time. and so we're going to make a very quick transition to the reporters panel so we're going to add one chair and switch over very quickly. i'm the transition team. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] cat m turning this over to from roll call, she'll introduce he panelists, we have a former paul miller, kimmerly -- kimberly and a former university of maryland grang watt. >> good morning. i'm catalina, i'm happy to be your moderate for -- moderator for a discussion of how to cover he transitions not only to the
next presidential administration but a transition of power if it should occur on the hill. we have olivier wright, then kimberly heffling. xt to kimberly is margaret talus, senior white house correspondent for bloomberg "the nd jackie kahn for new york times." our panel is well versed on issues this morning. we've got 21 days until election day. journalists are probably thinking, what next? we hope this panel gives you some insight and practical tapes -- tips on how to 1/2 gate the prans education to the -- transition to the next administration and what happens on the hill. so let me just ask the panel, what are your tips for covering the transition for the next, not
only 21 tais but for the first 100 days of the next administration. olivier? olivier: the principle of coverage of this is no different than principle of coverage of the white house. when you cover the white house it's best not to cover the white house. talk to congress, the agency, talk to the political operatives, talk to above all, talk to congress where you may as well have 535 press secretaries all talking. so in some ways the transition can be complicated. in the immediate part of the allies in congress hear things. it's good to talk to other people who have the same information or close to it but aren't as guarded. cat: kimberly you covered
various department agencies like the v.a. and education department. what happens there when all your sources, especially the political appointee, may be gone? how do you go about getting ready for the next administration? kimberly: you have to start now. this is the time to be going to key lawmakers and to key interest groups and say, ask them, what are you formally and informally asking the transition teams to do in the next and keep going back to them, what are you hearing from the transition teams? those are questions to be asking now from a practical perspective, the first day of a new administration if you're covering an agency can be taunting this ecommunications people you've been dealing with for like months or even years are suddenly in a lot of cases gone and you can't assume that the political appointees who will be handle the
communications jobs will be there answering the phones and even if they are there, they may not feel like they have the expertise to answer your questions yet or they might not feel like the experts are in place, the political appointees, to help them. so the people that you're used to contacting 24 hours a day with obscure questions about regulations and that kind of thing, are suddenly gone, you have to be prepared for that day. cat: margaret, what about you? some good tips for reporters out there who might be listening on how to cover the next administration? margaret: part of it is just be organized for yourself. there are some things you know about the transition team before the president-elect becomes the president-elect. you know what the official structure or at least the beginnings of it looks like. you know that there are co-chairs of the committee. there's an executive director, two executive directors, maybe who their economic advisor is who their foreign policy
advisors are. that can help you be become organized. there's stories that every transition has in terps of overage. they help shape who the cabinet will be, who the top staff will be. what are the stories you want to know in transition, who is the chief of staff going to be? who are going to be their top picks for the top tier of the cabinet positions and the second tier of the cabinet positions, not that there's any top tier and second tier cabinet positions, but of course there are. you have to figure out what are your priorities are, what are you going to be covering? a generalist who is covering everything a politics reporter looking at the incoming administration and their relationship with congress, or are you going to be doing foreign policy? what your beat interests are and how they overlap with the kind of decisions that the transition team is going to be making are really important. i think the other thing to keep in mind is that, there's kind of three parts to any incoming
president. there's the campaign, there's the transition, and then there's the new administration. some of the people on that transition team you will never see again. they're there for that interim to do a job and they're out. some of the people on the campaign will continue on to the administration, some are just political people who will not. there'll be some important players in the administration who never had any role in the campaign but probably fewer of those. and so during the transition, i think it's key not to forget about who the players were in the campaign. both from a staff perspective and kind of from an advisor, kitchen cabinet perspective. a lot of those faces will reappear when it's time to create the change of command inside the administration. cat: jackie? jackie: i'll go quickly, since i atpwhree with others have said. three rules for transition, one is you should be started by now. you know. because the campaigns have been.
that wasn't always true, it's sort of become true over time. as they have seen the mistakes of past transition. the other is to just be completely, intimately knowledgeable about the campaign promises that the candidates have made. and the third is to know who the people are behind the scenes who are, you know, responsible for coming up with those policies and the people, you know, used to be reporting all the time, just in conversation with people, who are you hearing might be treasury secretary? people are talking about this now, they have been for months. one example going back to the transition between george h.w. bush and bill clinton is i had been covering congress for "the wall street journal" and -- which goes to a point that a lot of people, if they're not going to come from congress into
administration at top cabinet level, typically a secretary or just under, people on the hill are going to know who is in the running or who is being talked about. so i, in november of -- starting in october, really, of 1992, i had started doing reporting profiles on lloyd bentsen, chairman of the senate finance committee, he was one of the people i heard might be treasury secretary in a clinton administration. so i had my profile all ready, he was going to be named sometime, i know, early december. because my baby came 10 days early and so when i was in the birthing room and undergoing contradictions, between contradictions i was on the phone with one of my colleagues dictating, literally dictating from my notes that i had on lloyd bentsen to be treasury secretary so i got a joint byline on that one.
on the next one, clinton to george w. bush, i was intimately familiar with george w.'s tax cut plan to the extent he had details. so that was like his first priority, first thing he went out with. so i was -- i had already some view of the politics of that, who, you know, the democrats, there were still some conserve tiff democrats in southern states in particular, those no longer exist but they were willing to play ball with george w. bush. so i was ready for that debate when it came. just like, you don't report -- report a transition in a transition, you report it months ahead of time. cat: we're about to have a change of power here in washington where either major party candidate who will enter the white house has, shall we say, a storied relationship with
the press. sometimes outright not trust thinking press, sometimes using the press to their advantage. what tips would you give to our audience here and watching on c-span on how to deal with that? olivier? olivier: first of all, let me confirm that neither of these candidates like the press, which is fine. they're not supposed to be your friends. in my experience, when one -- one of the ways that complicates the relationship is it makes me want to collect as much information on a story i'm doing before i go to them because there's always the danger that they will assess what you have collected and they will go to a rival organization and give them that bit of news you were trying to ferret out. and so i try to collect as much information, when it's bad for them. if it's not bad for them, it
matters less. but i've naively pitched this, i'm going to report this out, they realize it's a good angle for them, and feed it to somebody else. i recommend collecting as much information as you can before you go to the people who don't like you. that can have, in addition to avoiding some bad things it can be leverage for you. you can walk into a conversation and say, no, no, no, i know this. i have this. don't give me this garbage. you and i both know this is true. so that's very helpful. i think that's probably the number one tip i would give you. start working on your story far away from the people who dislike you, only come to them late in the process. cat: margaret, how do you navigate the issues of access when, for a lot of folks in the paul miller program, probably aren't going to be in the press room every day in the white house or not necessarily up on the hill during transition, how
do you navigate the issue of access? margaret: even when you are there every day it doesn't always matter. a lot of what happens -- this is probably true to have life in yen but certainly at the white house, is transactional. it's not personal, it's hierarchical an it's what they think they can get. do they consider you a friendly news organization, forget about you, does your organization have readers they're trying to reach, reader who may have a more ideological simpatico with them, how many people do you reach, is it a financial audience, more social issues audience, whatever. fill in the blanks. so to some extent if they really dislike you it probably, they'll go to someone else they like more in your organization but even if they like you, it's like, will they get what they want, you can be on the front row or second row or be on the
hill once every three weeks it almost probably doesn't matter. my advice is be thick skinned, it's almost never personal and when it is, zrue them. number two, figure out what you want to do. your instincts are probably better than you think. if you're not an inside player, if you're not at the briefing every day, in the pool every day if you work for a regional paper or a news organization that is just not completely compulsively all the time covering it, then maybe don't compete in the same air space or water, you know, compete in something you have strength in in an arena where you can do your sourcing outside of that building. and trust trust your own instincts. you don't need them to value dade what you see. sure, go to them at the last minute, get their comment. if you're doing good stories, they'll pay more attention to you, but even if they're pay manager attention to you, it
doesn't mean you'll get the leak or the flet or the first phone call. trust your own instincts, look for stories you can get, and you know, access is great when you have it but you don't -- you only need it to do certain kinds of stories. if you're not going to get it, figure out you're not going to get it, hope you have an editor who understands that and to what you can do. cat: before i open it up to the audience for querks i want to get a dialogue going with you and our panel, but before that, jackie, we saw a question about unfinished priorities. we saw on friday the obama administration issue a new round of actions designed to increase trade and travel in cuba and now travelers coming back from the island can bring back those famous cigars and the rum. are we likely to see more of those kinds of executive actions as we near the end of the obama administration? how do we go about knowing what
issues could come up in these final days? and then how do you parlay that into stories in the first 100 of he new administration? jackie: i think you will see more rule making, this is something president obama relied on for much of his second term because it was clear that he, the republican controlled congress, which for the last nearly two years, for this last two years of his term has been completely controlled, once the republicans won, completely controlled by republicans since the republicans took control of the senate in early 2015. i think he's done most, well, time is running out so he's done most of what he's going to do. margaret might not -- might know better, it's been over a year since i was covering the white house day-to-day, yet there's a danger of executive orders, as the white house is the first to acknowledge, is that they can be
overturned. the one thing president obama is hoping in a lot of cases, including these, whether cuba or climate change, is there will be so much that industry in particular has already done and is supportive of that it would be hard to turn it back without, you know, alienating oring anering the republicans' own business allies. so in that sense they hope it will be harder to turn back than people think. but donald trump has promised to do a wholesale, you know, sort of erasure of the ino ba ma executive orders. margaret: to some extent it matters who the next president is going to be. president obama will have some time to figure that out between the election and the time when he returns out of time to issue executive orders. obviously if you have a president from the same party,
who you're friendly with and is seen as a third term or continuity it might embolden you to do more executive orders, ecause the next president is less likely to overturn them. on the other hand, if it's a controversial issue and you hand it to the next president, it ould be a hot potato for them. if it's the other party, do i load it up and force the guy to overturn everything? or is that more trouble for my party in the long run? that's the considerations to watch for. i think the issues the president has been unable to tackle through congress, like closing guantanamo, he resisted tri-ing
to do anything epic, off the harts with an executive order, think he won't do it? kimberly: another thing is who is in, who is out in the obama white house. obama's white house was constantly clashing with teachers unions yet clinton came out early in the -- the teachers unions came out early in the campaign and endorsed her at a key time so it's going to be interesting to see what her relationship is like with them. there are so many opportunities to say, look at who is getting the attention, who is getting what they want, not just with executive orders but other ways as well. cat: i see hands getting ready to go up and ask questions. if you could please, when you ask your question, if you could tell us your name and your news organization, that would help our panelists as well. questions? i saw a couple of hands.
here in the front. >> i hope this doesn't sound too much like i have no idea what i'm talking about, but with the idea that execive orders coming out quickly is the only way to overturn an executive order with another executive order? is there a way to do it quietly? usually we see press releases when there's a new executive order, but if there's an executive order she didn't like, can you keep it more subtle if she overturns it? cat: anyone want to give insight on how executive orders getover state your named -- overturned? there's also the courts. >> i don't think hillary clinton, i don't think it would be her first priority overturning some of the obama executive orders.
jackie: certainly donald trump would. and george w. bush did as soon as he came in. i meant to look this up last night in particular. there were things he -- didn't go to an executive order but he withdrew the united states from participation in international organization, help me out here. olivier: the treaty, he reversed the arsenic in the drinking water. on his last day in office clinton put out executive orders designed entirely to inflict political pain on george w. bush including regulating the levels of arsenic in drinking water, there was one on the mexico city language, which has to do with family planning. it's actually a good question. and it's -- we of all people are not going to cast aspersions on anyone who ask questions that make them seem like they're not
experts. the court is one way to do it, and the interesting one is they could actually issue executive orders they don't tell us about. you know, as this president has done. so that could conceivably be a path to overturning things without us ever really necessarily knowing. the challenge is keeping it under wraps is very difficult. because the agencies that are affected will have their own interests in talking about it to reporters. congress, whenever they're briefed, just talk, talk, talk. so it would be hard to do. but they don't have to make a big announcement. >> isn't there's a notification of congress unless there's an exception? olivier: when obama signed that order with the drone, then two days later signed another one that he didn't tell us about that kept the drone order. there are ways to do it that are significantly less public than others. that's one of the challenges of covering this transition is going to be, how do you find out when these things.
>> it's primarily national security. olivier: primarily national security where they hide it. but they could do it at midnight on saturday, not make harder for us to report but make it harder for the report to get picked up by the public. >> one other thing that occurred to me to be aware of going from one president to the next, george w. bush pioneered the use of signing statements when he signed a bill. he'd sign a bill and have a signing statement in which he said, i don't agree with this part of it, so i'm not going to enforce that part. it was challenged, but it stands, democrats criticized it strongly. one of my colleagues, charlie savage, when he was at "the boston globe" wrote a story about it, obama was a critic but , far less extent than bush,
issued signing statements that indicate where he wouldn't feel like endorsing the law. jackie: president trump, let's say, his people, his legislative council and others could look at some past laws and see what leeway the previous president left him by way of these signing tatements. >> but this also tends to be heavy in the rem of national defense. olivier: charlie was not a white house correspondent. he picked up on something that we as the white house press corps, it becomes so routine, we didn't necessarily see the story there. we were all aware of it, we talked about it but here come this is outsider who is like, wait, really? you can set aside this part of the law? and he wrote the piece and this is something, something any aspiring reporter should be aware of. there are plenty of stories out there, sitting right out there in plain view. the more speerblize -- specialized press corps may not realize it's a story.
>> and they're not necessarily access stories. cat: before i go to the next question from the audience, our panelists have talked a lot about getting to know people who are involved in the transition and getting to know the people up on the hill who support either presidential candidate. how do you do that in a hurry in the age of multiplatform journalism where you may need to send a tweet do, a snapchat, file for a dot com and then by the way there's a thing called the next day's print edition. kimberly, you have experience with this from politico. what are your tips for backgrounding people in a hurry? kimberly: you have to find out where they're going to be, you could get 10 seconds with that person, that can be crit sal -- critical so they know your name.
also the basic reporter, call someone up and ask them to get coffee, styles they're willing to do that. keeping trk of someone's schedule can be an important way to do that. a critical way to find somebody, hand them your card. in the old days, i kept files on every texan when i was working at the "dallas morning news" washington bureau on every texan who might be joining an administration. cat: but i can't do that anymore in a digital age. other questions from the audience. anyone? in the back. >> your bee yow suggests we should ask you about the shoe story. olivier: you all look too young to remember it in realtime. president george w. bush did a
final trip to iraq and afghanistan in late 2008. i was part of the press pool that went with him. we had this joint press event with then-iraqi prime minister maliki in one of the presidential palaces. as they stood there at their two podiums, american press sitting where you guys are, iraqi press sitting where you guys are, a small, black object sailed over small black object sailed over our collective heads. we realized it was a wing tipped shoe. he'd hurled the first of two shoes at president bush. you can probably find pictures of me and the president and my quadruple chin on the internet.
the secret service had flagged him as a potential parabe and if he'd waited another 90 seconds, he could have hit the president. at the podium w. could duck, dodge. a little bit later he would have been sitting in this high-backed chair with high arms and there was absolutely no way he was going to get away from the shoe. >> yes? jim carroll from the university of maryland. >> oh, sorry. an anecdote to that, the white house christmas party after that incident, i asked the president in my two minutes with him if he had heard a lot of jokes about it and hence yeah, the guy who shunni. was a >> boo. >> stole it from somebody in the press corps. >> gentleman in the white shirt. >> from the houston chronicle.
what was the president's reaction after he threw the shoe? >> he was annoyed that that was going to be the lead to the story. it was all about sort of tying up lose ends with both countries so he was annoyed that everyone writing about his trip boiled down his farewell to those two country is, it was entirely this crazy thing happened. he was pretty avoid -- annoyed about it but they got it. they understood that the press corps was going to focus on that but they were not particularly pleased with it. >> we wanted to give -- jackie, go ahead. jackie: there was a question over here -- sorry. >> so when you're looking at how to approach coverage of a transition, is there any differences you can think of party transition
and opposite party transition and how you approach that coverage? margaret? margaret: in case there would be more continuity. probably not in every single case. if you look already just between -- john on white house podesta worked for bill clinton and he was at the center for american progress, like the clinton campaign in waiting. he's on obama's transition team. there's a lot of that sort of continuity. clinton's communication director now had that role at the white house and then before then, they was a longtime democrat and then before then she was at the clinton white house. in the case of obama to clinton, you see people who went from bill clinton to obama to the clinton campaign who would have
a role. obviously the transition from obama to trump would be completely different. i can't think of anybody. >> i was listening to the next panel and bill and anita mcbride seemed to agree that there could be more tension with a democrat-to-democrat oren-to- republican transition than different parties and that is -- i didn't really agree but i deferred to them and especially anieto, who's been part of transitions but i think if al gore had been elected president, there would definitely have been some tension because after their itial bromance between president clinton and vice president gore early in the campaign, by the end there was so much tension as manifest in the fact that gore did not really want bill clinton and i think to gore's everlasting
detriment, did not want bill clinton campaigning for him so that would have been one where there was tension but the most tension i experienced or covered was that from the clinton -- allegedly clinton -- there's a dispute about this clinton to george w. bush where the staffers took the w's off the keyboards and a lot of them dispute that or at least dispute how widespread that was. olivier: one of the most famously terrible transitions was you reagan to h.w. bush. if you talk to people who are legit, all they do is transition politics. they'll tell you that was a terrible transition. there were a lot of people in the reagan administration so assumed they would have the same job or be promoted and they were not. they were shown the exits. and there were some policy
changes as well. that's why those folks are talking about the difficulty of intraparty. the only one i covered closely was clinton into w. and the thing that struck me with you how fairly transparent the bush administration was because they really wanted to talk about the changes. they wanted to talk about -- this was true under clinton, it is not under this president. it was policy, personal. all these other things. they were really aggressive in talking to us and revealing things. even things we would consider they'd be cautious about talking about, especially arsenic in the drinking water, they were like no, we're going to take this down. i don't think there's any hard and fast rule about whether they're better or worse but certainly the w. one felt relatively open in the way they
were changing things around. >> i think the bush to obama was ok. on the stuff that mattered. on the national security stuff, on being able to literally find files and information and stuff. i think the bush team was a class act about it and the obama team decided to be a class act on the receiving side. >> i think you're right. i always thought there was this great irony in that bill clinton bequeepted george w. bush peace and prosperity. no wars. a surplus. 1.6 trillion projected as a surplus for the next five years and yet bill clinton did next to nothing to ease the transition to the w. bush administration. conversely, george w. bush eight years later would bequeevept barack obama two wars and the
greatest recession since the 1930's and yet he did maybe the most spectacular job of transitioning between two different party presidents of any president to date so -- and the obama people have been very complimently of that, even if they would maybe have preferred the other way around. peace and prosperity and a crappy transition. >> in the clinton white house, it would be interesting to see if the bill clinton people are being picked over the obama people or a view of let's start fresh. that's one thing to look at. >> very good point. >> this was addressed in the first panel but are the people wanting to come in wanting to blow up some of these agencies that trump has expressed saying we don't need them. cat: let's talk about the other transition that might occur that
does affect the white house as well and that is the possibility that the senate could go back into democratic hand. what are some of the tips that you would have an -- about paying attention to congress and that transition and how does it relate to really the change of power at the white house and the fact that we may or may not, depending on the outcome of election day, have another four or eight years of divided government? >> i think one issue i'm looking at -- and i don't want to just get it down to one issue but this is a big issue and that's the transatlantic partnership dream. if the republicans lost colonel -- control of congress -- i mean of the senate. mitch mcconnell and paul ryan might figure, well, this shows that trump couldn't win and one of his biggest platform issues p.s doing away with t.t.
their current opposition is over the opposition of many of their biggest donors and they're local business constituents and the third reason i could see it is because they know it would put hillary clinton in such a political bind, even before she's taken her oath of office. she would expect to it be, i think at this point very publicly out there saying i'm opposed to this urging democratic senators who to vote against it. so i think that's the biggest thing i'm looking for if they take congress. of course, there's also the supreme court nomination. >> it depend on -- there are a few different ouks. there's the oukt where clinton wins the white house, the republicans maintain control over the two chambers. in theory there's an outcome where trump wins the white house
and democrats take over a chamber. that seems unlikely. but if clinton wins and republicans remain in control of congress, she is on the defense and it's hard to see what she can do with an executive order starting on day one. if her party were somehow able to retake both chambers of congress and she were in the white house you would have at least an initial window where, based on obama's experience, literally one thing could get done. whether it be immigration reform or something else. if clinton were to win and democrats were to retake the senate but in and out the house then at least the democrats and senate kind of blunt the republicans in congress so it gives her a little bit more wiggle room and if trump were to n, even if republicans still
remained in control of both chambers you would have a really dynamic because there's so much vitriol that's within created and so much concern within the party on how to handle him, depending on what he would try to do. i think what we'll see on election night is not just two who the next president is going to be but it would be a complete road map for what degree of non-action versus unbridled chaos to expect. >> i agree with that. i feel like -- in all these policy areas where the candidates have made promises, so much of their ability to deliver depends on the makeup of congress. that could really shame priority issues. so it is really important. >> olivier: just as a tip, if you're coveraging presidential politics, always make friends with the advance people. the person who's setting up your filing center today because a communication director or a speech writer or policy advisor
tomorrow. always be nice to those people and if you're covering congress, always be friends of the deputy press secretary. always, always. cat: why the deputy and not -- >> because you want to establish their -- with you. there's a fair amount of turnaround. from the democrats we take the senate, you'll see some junior people get promoted to more senior positions. so incoming people will try and pluck staffers from other offices. some of my best to date were in very junior roles. they're actually some of the most knowledgeable and friendly people that you'll ever meet in politics. they're tremendous. they know a lot of this stuff. the person who does clips for -- meaning the person who collects the news coverage overnight for the candidate or senator or congressman, that person tomorrow couch a completely different job. always befriend those people.
always, always, always. cat: questions from the audience? yes. brian? >> this is more to be white house, president, congress but what is the precedents for an incoming ps president picking cabinet officials from the opposing party and what do you see as the potential of president clinton picking some republicans for cabinet posts? cat: that's a good question. picking someone in the cabinet from the opposing party. anyone want to jump in? >> in my experience, it's been the two democratic presidents that have done so, not the republicans, although i stand to be corrected. bill clinton, for instance, tapped bill cullen, republican senator of maine to be his defense secretary at one point and then, of course, we've already mentioned that bill gates was held over from the bush administration at the pentagon by president obama.
cat: i believe president george -- ush also tapped norman ransportation secretary. jackie: can you think of any others? cat: in an era of partisan politics and fierce partnership on the hill, particularly in the senate, do we still have this president's picks will actually get through or can we expect in the next administration some of these cabinet confirmation hearings to be pretty testy and maybe not necessarily get through -- through on the first time? olivier: ask chuck hagel, right? has a really crappy nomination
process with his -- where his former colleagues are all over him and for a lot of complicated reasons, ended up spending not a lot of time in the administration. even if the next president wants to send a message by picking someone across the aisle, i would expect the experience to be a not more like chuck hagelle's experience and a lot less like norman's experience. >> it mahe matter which of the two nominees is elected. -- linton's case, she has trumped the fact that a number of republicans have come over to support her campaign. so that gives her kind of a ready-made batch either for potential nominees for cabinet or for under secretary of
whatever. and the upside of having someone from the oppose position -- opposing party inside your group, if you feel you trust them, it is information from the other side that you might not have otherwise and it is potential line of friendly communications across the aisle, which can be hard to do if you kind of completely hole up with your own people. d i'm having a harder time managing under a trump administration who would be the democrats that they would have developed the ties to bring onboard. i'm not thinking of anyone. no one comes to mind. jackie: i can't off the top of my head but your point is right, i think. >> i think, there's the unintended consequences on the
confirmation hearings. the attorney general waited a long time for our confirmation vote in the senate in part because the senate was mixed up in a political issue that had nothing to do with her, right? so -- >> that goes to a point i was going to make that will make this upcoming round of confirmations different from those in the past. confirmations have become increasingly polarized over time. when i first started my career, a president was given defense in putting his team together and trying to oppose or bust a nominee was a very, very rare thing and it's far less rare and now you have a situation. you may know more about this than i do in terms of how it's playing out now, but the republicans under mitch mcconnell are still smarting from the fact that harry reid, when he was majority leader, changed the filibuster rules so
that you could get through federal judges, other than supreme court judges, on a filibuster-proof process and so they have exacted their revenge by slow walking or even blocking other nominees that president obama has made, even to very, you know, uncontroversial places or people that placed unanimously out of committee. and i think the republicans, whether they're the minority or majority in the senate will continue to do some of that. >> ambassador -- has become one of the favoritest lately. cat: when these presidential picks come up for confirmation hearings, sometimes we'll hear that someone's nomination is in trouble because they hadn't paid their tax or didn't follow the rules regarding a nanny and how
to report that income. what are some of the documents or records that our all of a sudden should be looking for when names come up for cabinet positions. are there ways to look up their finances or anything like that? >> it's very hard. they have to turn over tax documents to the senate finance committee and the senate finance committee and some of its statue has unique power to review -- because tax documents are pretty sack rosangets when it comes to federal documents, but what i've tried to do in the past, and the staff and members are bound not to talk about it but there are ways of asking around like well, do you see any trouble ahead or so-and-so? there's a lot of the papers that we don't get to see but that shouldn't stop you from trying. cat: you wered noing your head. >> olivier: yes, i wrote a piece
about john brennan's foreign gifts when he was nominated for head of the c.i.a. i have a weird obsession to american gifts to foreign officials. really important are the big, fat committee questionnaires on the questions of policy and ideology and the rest of it and sometimes the trouble can bubble up in there. a committee will submit 250 questions and one of them is answered off kilter and the committee will helpfully steer reporters to the off-kilter answer. yes, there are ways -- that was a great way of phrasing it. do you see any trouble ahead kind of question. that's absolutely your friend. cat: olivier, how did you find the foreign gifts for the c.i.a. director? olivier: it was kind of a random tax release. they released the financial disclosures and a couple of pages were foreign gifts.
i'm trying to remember what they were now. i think one of them was an insanely lavish clock that he got but -- it was -- i wasn't steered to it at all. it's just my own weird, quirky obsession but they do release this stuff. on the questionnaires, you can typically count on the opposition party to be like -- question 1456789 there's the regular standard disclosure stuff where you have to have the patience to go through and it then there's the more helped along kind of thing. jackie: there's the majority staff and the minority staff. you want to know the directors for both sides of the committee staff and then if it's someone who has a resume or background that's at all public, there are other things beyond what's going to get submitted.
ideally what you want is the stuff that doesn't get disclosed to the committee, right? it's previous tv appearses. previous jobs where they maybe had to file a closure -- disclosure form for that. once you know who it is, if it's someone you're really interested in you can kind of vet them yourself and see what you can find. cat: your next panel with someone from the center or responsive politics will also go over with you how you can find out about actual transition costs which will have to be made public after the election. we have time for just one or two more questions. anyone in the audience? yes, in the front. >> my name is sean with c-span and i'm wondering how the supreme court is factoring in the transitions and are people lobbying those campaigns to be a ominee and do you expect that
clinton will continue with garland's nomination? cat: she definitely has not committed to doing that so read what you will into it. >> and it's not just that there's one vacancy now. you look at the demographic table, the next president is going to have a whole bunch of those. it's always been baked in the cake for republicans, right? is that lame duck period going to be a period where, if clinton wins, you figure merrick garland is the safest pick and you should go with it or is everyone so entrenched active that it's just not going to happen? but she has not committed in any way to renominating him if this year comes and goes. cat: do you see anybody in the current obama cabinet who is
likely to be held over or who could be held over in a democratic presidency? >> for example, i cover the education department and john king has only been the secretary since the beginning of this ear. there are some stakeholders in education who would like to see him stay on. so that's one possibility. >> i've wondered about jack lew remaining far time as secretary of treasure. a, hillary clinton loves him. she objected when barack obama brought him -- she had taken him to the state department and when obama grabbed him to be o.m.d. director, she objected. i mean, she objected knowing she was going to lose but she objected. on the other hand, jack lew desperately wants to get back to private life and reunite with
his wife in new york and spend more time with his grandkids. going back to the confirmation fights, i think if you see some fight, there may be people, certainly mr. king, who want to stay on and perhaps provide some continuity. on the supreme court thing, two things. one, the fact that trump has put out so many names is unusual. that's never been done before. i'm cond is that i think in the minority but i tend to think hillary clinton would try to -- would push merrick garland for the supreme court. he's gotten the highest rating ever from the american bar association panel. the biggest thing against him, he's not as liberal as some of the democratic con stitch went groups would like but more important, he's 63, i think, which is old for a supreme court nominee. but the next president, i think
as you said, margaret is going to have a number of supreme court spots to fill. she's got so much on her plate coming in as president, it makes sense to me. the republicans have already indicated, people like orrin hatch and others, how much they like and respect garland. i'd make the case she'd go with him. >> why do you think she's kept her options open? >> there are some con stitch went groups that would like to see someone more liberal. she opportunity maybe want to disadvantage him. that if she gives him her blessing republicans mo whoa might otherwise be inclined to not vote for him thinking we're going to screw hillary clinton -- cat: makes a lot of sense. keep the possibility that it could be someone worse. we have time for one more question from the audience. >> this relates to that.
let's say it's a democratic senate getting voted in and secretary clinton ends up being the next president. do you see the lame duck session pushing through merrick garland and if so, how is that going to affect the confirmation process? cat: don't forget we have to fund the federal government for the rest of fiscal 2016 but anyone want to tackle that question about merrick garland in the lame duck? olivier: not going to happen. they have roughly flee weeks. they have to fund the government. they have a couple of more bills that the senate is more attached to related to health measures. i don't know that three weeks is going to be enough to keep the government open so the idea that they could also hold senate judiciary hearings and also set up a vote and somehow overcome the on georgia teches of senators who are virtually sure to try to block this nomination,
i would be stunned. it's not impossible but i haven't heard anything notable from mitch mcconnell's team that makes me think he gets a vote in the lame duck. >> i agree with that. cat: the senate republicans have always said the next president should have the pick. on that note, i want to thank the panelists for their time and insights. we've had a very good discussion this morning and i hope you find it valuable as you listen to your next panel. i'd like to thank the c-span all of a sudden and also the sponsors of this program, the university of maryland, philip merrill college school of journalism as well as my colleagues, c. -- at c.q. roll call and the national press foundation. thank you. [applause]